A few Do's and Don'ts of Decorating: a home tour

it's always flattering and a little crazy when ladies reach out to me about my apartment and how i style it. admittedly, i have no idea what i'm doing when it comes to decorating this place and i don't have the means to do everything maybe some people would like. but what i've learned after living on my own for 6 years is that even someone on a very strict budget can have a living space worth looking at. my lady friend Anne invited me over to her little corner of the internet to share some photos of my apartment, a few of my do's and don't for decorating, and how to make a space look great and still afford to pay your rent on time (priorities, ya know) so here's a quick look at my obnoxiously bright, nonsense apartment that somehow works for me! 
my biggest DO when it comes to decorating is: Do splurge on things you're going to keep for a while. generally speaking this will be bigger pieces like couches, dining tables and entertainment centers. this couch was the most expensive thing in my apartment at $2000 but it seemed like a couch was a good place to spend the money. also, it is one of maybe 5 things in my living room that weren't found in thrift stores, flea markets, my neighbor's garbage cans or craigslist.  i figured i would sit on it everyday, it's extremely neutral in color so it will match whatever i put around it and it's going to be living with me for a while. plus, i love this couch, as all of the cushion covers come off and can be thrown in my washer and dryer. and being that the whole thing is white, a cap full of bleach in the wash load makes for an even brighter couch. i mean, if a smoker that spills everything is telling you she owns a white couch, it's probably something you should look into.  plus, sectionals are great since i've moved this things around 37 different ways over the years. so, spend your money where you'll be seeing it for a while. don't waste it on your throw pillows.
along this wall where my fireplace now sits i use to have this dresser. my cousin found it at a thrift store for $3 and it's obviously the best thrift find to date. i've since moved it to my bedroom but the point is, look for furniture everywhere. people get rid of things all the time and while maybe someone didn't feel like loving that perfect mid century modern peg leg dresser anymore, all i could think was COME TO MAMA! while loading it up in my truck last year. That being said, one of my biggest DON'TS when decorating: DON'T waste your time in the retail stores. I'm watching so many of my friends start decorating their first homes and I wish they would let me do the work for them. I loathe Pottery Barns and West Elms because they mass produce items that are meant to look one of a kind. While I find trunks at flea markets for $40, Crate and Barrel is selling them for $800. and it's the same one your neighbor probably owns, too. be original, people. don't be afraid to flea. 
anytime i venture out of my own apartment into someone else's, which is rare (i'm practically a hermit) i like to look around at how they decorate their space. one time, a few years ago i locked myself out of my apartment and my neighbor upstairs let me come up and sit on his couch while i waited for my roommate to get home. i had never been in his apartment before and was sooo stoked to learn that the guy had good taste. lots of fun artwork on the wall and cool books and plenty of things to catch your eye. most anyone that comes to my apartment says the same thing. it's hard to run out of weird stuff to look at. i've never had a minimalistic approach on decorate and probably never will. 
this old dresser is such an eye sore. it's bright yellow and old and was given to me when i moved in here but it gets the job done as a wet bar. i keep a few bottles of liquor out here and a few silly books, like the history of whiskey and one book entitled "it's just a plant" that teaches kids about how pot is your friend. obviously, i don't have kids because i find the book to be hilarious. the point is: be weird! people love weird! like how i keep my perfume bottle next to my hendricks gin. whatevs.
a fireplace was something i always wanted in this apartment, but i look around at my high ceilings and exposed brick and i consider myself lucky and try not to complain. one of my bar regulars at work gave me this mantel in exchange for patching some holes in a few pairs of his jeans (no. seriously.) and it was the best trade ever. i love a good fireplace mantel and this one came out of an old barn somewhere. i find white and cream candles at the thrift store every time i go and just keep filing it. i stack 50 cent books and filled a basket with thrifted blankets. all together i would say that mantel cost about $40 to decorate. Well, i take that back. i did buy my "nuns in bumper cars" print RETAIL years ago because… i mean… it's nuns in bumper cars. how am i going to NOT have a print in my apartment of nuns playing bumper cars? money well spent. 
above my mantel is a $5 brochure unfolded that shows all of the haunted locations in ohio. i love when people come over and they just stare at it for a few minutes. it's neat. plus, we're in Cincinnati, the lowest left corner, so it's fun to see places around us. i also keep my sage stick, a few copper pots and a squirrel skull in a glass globe on my mantel. because i'm a grown up and i can do whatever i want! 

my newspaper clipping hangs proudly by my bathroom door and shows my dad, at 20 years young, working with my grandpa at our family's automotive shop. it's dating at the top from 1984! he was and still is a stud and i'm proud to keep this thing safe and sound hanging in my home. there's another DO for ya: personal touches, like family photographs or memorabilia will go a long way. finding other people's history at thrift stores is amazing but having some of your own is such a treat, too. 
plants. i can't say enough about having a few houseplants around. a girlfriend of mine came over a few months back and told me in the nicest way possible that my home needed some plant life and oh my god was she right. i'm obsessed now. i buy them cheap and find the pots and bowls at thrift shops. seeing green just makes me feel better and having them all clumped up together by my front windows and on my trunk looks good to me. invest in plants that are forgiving. snake plants are a fan favorite right now, as they need to be watered only weekly, they're cheap and tall and gorgeous. cacti and succulents are also great for my fellow black thumbs out there. keep it fun and interesting with weird bowls and baskets to keep your plants in. 
my "dining room" (is it a room if there are no walls?) leaves much to be desired. i long for a big, fantastic reclaimed wood dining table but haven't found THEE one, yet. she's out there. i just know it. DON'T number 2: DON'T rush. please don't be that girl that goes to ikea and grabs the first $200 dining room tables she's sees…. BECAUSE THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I DID. why am i yelling? sorry. i get carried away. i haaate this dining room table but considering it's covered in paint stains and scratches, maybe it's best for right now. save your money and invest in those big pieces that you will love forever. 
DO: trust craigslist. i have always had a love for oriental, persian, expensive as hell RUGS. but with a small budget and two insane pets and a habit for walking around my house in my shoes, i don't trust myself to not ruin one. i head straight to craigslist in times like these. when i have $100 max to spend but i know there's a 10 foot by 8 foot beauty out there that i can snag up real quick. this rug isn't perfect by any means and probably not what i would pick if i had thousands to spare, but it's beautiful and once it's covered with my awful ikea table and my fabulous Herman Miller chairs, it doesn't look half bad. 

Oh, there's something, too. DO show off your collections. I collect chairs. vintage, weird, crazy chairs. hell, i like chairs more than i like any of the people that sit in them. but there are 6 chairs at my dining room table- all different from each other and all fun and all wound up in my house by some weird way or another. 
more of my plants, because they're my most healthy relationship to date and they're purrrrdy! also, that trunk? thats' the $40 one i was telling you about. eat your heart out, restoration hardware! that thing was from a craiglist purchase 7 years ago and holds all of my christmas decorations. 
my mock eames chair was a christmas gift to myself years ago (because i was a good girl, obviously) and the sheep skin throw was a lucky craigslist find purchased off of some poor girl that didn't know what she was giving up. the records all come from thrift stores and i won't pay more than $2 for 1. that big gold thing up there was a gift from my step mom and it's so my style, it's not even funny. completely made out of plaster, it shows all of the astrological signs. go, stepmom, go! 
so there's a little look at the living room of my apartment. and here's a recap: i'm broke. i don't have expendable cash to spend on lamp fixtures and end tables. but what i do have is an eye to find fun, one of a kind pieces on the shelves of thrift stores and flea markets that look good. use your brain when it comes to decorating your space. don't let a retail store in the mall tell you how to make your home look good. don't be lazy. do be weird. find things that make you tilt your head one way in confusion and think to yourself "would that look cool in my house?" because your guests would probably tell you YES!

thanks again, Anne! and good luck with your new home adventures! 


1 comment

  1. I love it and all your tips - you certainly sound/look like a pro :) Thanks so much again for sharing!


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